2021 Year in Review

I wasn’t initially planning on writing a year in review blog post for 2021, but I was recently reminded of how nice it is to have a concise public record of the things that were important to me for each year (even if nobody other than me reads it). So here it goes!


Marin Headlands


Most Valuable Lessons

  1. It’s easy to take peace and serenity for granted. But when the peacefulness breaks, it becomes clear how priceless it really was, and how much more effort it will take to restore it. The lesson here is that letting smaller problems fester is really easy to do, but becomes exponentially more harmful the longer they rot. No project or relationship is “100% maintenance free.”
  2. Take more Fridays off to go trail running or hiking!
  3. If I don’t carve out time to make plans for achieving my running or travel goals, it will 100% not happen. There’s not some magic travel fairy that will come to sweep me away on my favorite trip. It’s all on me to make cool stuff happen.


In February of 2020 we adopted Noona, a Siberian Husky. She’s been an absolutely wonderful companion over the past two years. Here are some adventures we took this year.


I minored in Japanese in college and started trying to pick up Chinese around 2017.2 In 2021 I continued my casual study of these languages, mostly through the apps Anki and LingQ. I kept up with Anki way more frequently than LingQ since it’s easier to pick up when I have small pieces of free time.

For Chinese, I tried to practice as much as possible with the native Mandarin speaker I live with (thank you Elva). I also met with a friend from Google every week to practice conversation.

This year I gave some thought to my ultimate goals for these two languages. For Japanese my goal is passing the JLPT N2. For Chinese I just want to become basically conversant for when I take trips there. This amounts to ~HSK 5 level.


I read 30 books in 2021. I wrote about my favorites here. This year I finally figured out how to link my SF Public Library card with my Kindle. Why did I not do this earlier?? It’s amazing!


I ran 500.49 miles in 2021.3 Compared to the last 5 years, I ran about the same mileage in 2021 as in 2018 & 2019 (both big running & racing years). The return of real in-person running races helped me get my motivation back.

Running Races

Race Distance Date
Inside Trail Rodeo Valley 30K August 7
Zoom San Francisco Half Marathon September 11
Inside Trail Oakland Hills Half Marathon October 30
Santa Rosa Turkey Trot 5K November 25
Inside Trail Peacock Gap 5K December 4
ZombieRunner Quarry Lakes 5K December 12

Personal Records

Distance Time Year Set
1mi 5:32 2018
5K 18:48 2018
10K 41:22 2019
13.1mi 1:28:59 2020
26.2mi 3:59:44 2019

No new PRs this year! In 2021 I leaned more toward trail races. In 2022 I may continue to prefer trails, and set distance goals for trail races accordingly (e.g. trail marathon, 50k).


I was really grateful to have the opportunity to travel again! We headed around California and the East Coast for breaks and weddings.

Paul Signac, Evening Calm, 1891, at The Met
Mild High Club in LA

San Luis Obispo


San Francisco became ground zero for a massive amount of autonomous vehicle testing this year. On any given day, you would see numerous Waymos, Cruises, Zooxes, and Nuros.

A Cruise and a Waymo side-by-side near Golden Gate Park.

This year I celebrated 2 years at Waymo. Work was tough this year. One positive development was that I got to meet most of my coworkers in person for the first time.

I feel like I “grew up” a lot this year at work. Throughout my career so far I had always been interested in broadening my skills and becoming a better engineer, but there are aspects outside of writing perfect code that I had really been lacking. I felt pretty uncomfortable leaning into these new areas this year, which was actually a welcome change to the complacency I was starting to fall into.

Noona hard at work.

Writing ✍️

Similarly with running, during Covid my writing motivation took a nosedive. Few blog posts and no newsletter updates this year. I like writing and want to continue practicing it. I wrote 3 blog posts this year.

I want to get serious about writing more in 2022.

See you in 2022

In 2022 I want to work on growing my empathy, compassion, and gratitude for others. I hope you have a wonderful, fun, and safe 2022.

  1. One notable exception is “trail run Wednesdays.” I realized quarantine was a unique opportunity to explore the best of Bay Area trail running. I was able to explore a ton of new places and see a lot of wildlife up close! (And if you are my boss reading this, please be assured I was always back in time bright and early before work began Wednesday morning). ↩︎

  2. Footnote: Come to think of it, I should write about my experience learning Chinese as a Japanese student. ↩︎

  3. It would have been 494 miles if I hadn’t noticed at the very last minute on December 31 that I was too close to 500 not to put in an extra 6 miles. ↩︎

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